Hallowe’en Nights a Family Friendly Delight

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From apple orchards and pumpkin patches to haunted houses and hayrides, Michigan is blessed with a cornucopia of fall festivities and activities. Indeed the rich and colorful history of Halloween runs deep in the Wolverine State and one event that has become a staple of the Detroit area is Hallowe’en Nights at Greenfield Village in Dearborn.

Greenfield Village, for those unfamiliar, was the brainchild of Henry Ford — yes, the Henry Ford of Ford Motor Company fame. Greenfield Village is a collection of historic homes, shops and buildings assembled by the late Mr. Ford and each October the streets and districts are transformed into a vintage Halloween celebration. I visited this event for the first time last fall with my wife and son and discovered a fun, family friendly atmosphere with playful scares and mildly spooky scenes.

The magical journey began in the Working Farms District, 1,000s of jack-o-lanterns lined the streets and served as a silent guide throughout Greenfield Village. Although not each and every last area of the village was accessible, all of the seven districts that comprise Greenfield Village were incorporated into the event in some capacity and the level of decoration was immaculate. Attention was paid to detail, the labs inside Edison at Work were alight with the signature glow of black lights; historic homesteads and shops from a bygone era featured windows and doors that pulsed with the eerie beacon of strobe lights.

The Main Street District was dominated by a carnival sideshow that included a stage performance and a photo-op with an enchanting mermaid. We pushed our way through the throngs of revelers and settled for a moment next to a large statue of Thomas Edison where I snapped a photo of my beloved wife and son.

Following a trek through Menlo Park, we entered the Porches & Parlors District heralded by a bizarre musical performance that was conducted by a pair of glowing skeletons who had taken up residence beneath a gazebo. When that whimsical oddity had concluded we braved the covered bridge that featured fog and lasers. The bridge was the most purely frightening experience of Hallowe’en Nights and I’m proud to report that my little guy never blinked in the face of fear; instead his eyes were full of wonder and curiosity.

Near Walnut Grove we witnessed a trio of oversized, singing jack-o-lanterns and became acquainted with a pair of peculiar fairy sisters, Kynda and Roodelle. As we continued uphill we watched pirates duel, breezed past a graveyard adjacent to Martha-Mary Chapel and eyed broom rentals near J.R. Jones General Store. Indeed, the various characters, mini-plays and complimentary scenes spread across Greenfield Village only served to heighten the overall mystique of this special event.

The light of the jack-o-lanterns had brought us back to Main Street where we paused for a few moments and were delighted to find that the iconic carousel was used to great effect. Old-fashioned music drifted across the intersection of Christie and Main Street while the carousel spun haunting rotations as if propelled by a ghostly hand. It immediately brought to mind an episode of The Twilight Zone titled Walking Distance in which a man is transported back in time to his childhood and pays a visit to the local carnival. This was, undoubtedly, one of my favorite highlights of Hallowe’en Nights.

Next, we were briefly routed into Railroad Junction where we traversed a spooky grove, illuminated only by the glow of several carved pumpkins — this was another one of my most favorite moments. When we emerged from the atmospheric grove, it was a short jaunt into the beautiful Liberty Craftworks District where a fun-loving werewolf danced to the tune of Lil’ Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs. This area also sported an excellent Halloween Tree positioned just outside the Pottery Shop.

Once we had left Liberty Craftworks behind our journey was nearly complete, but not before the Headless Horseman and Ichabod Crane engaged in bit of Halloween humor in a field just off of Mill Road back in the Working Farms District.

Hallowe’en Nights at Greenfield Village is an event that I would recommend to people of all ages because there truly did seem to be a little something for everybody. There was considerable congestion near several of the candy stations, but it was rarely overwhelming and perhaps can be further alleviated if additional areas of the village were utilized for the event. Regardless, I was impressed by the overall quality of Hallowe’en Nights and look forward to future trips with the family.

Rating: 4.25 stars

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